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Film School Spotlight: Paul Chitlik on the Loyola Marymount University Student Experience

April 18, 2019
1 min read time

With alumni credited for works ranging from L.A. Confidential to Criminal Minds to the One Day at a Time reboot, it is no surprise variety is a theme at the Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television.

Close to Hollywood, approximately 750 undergraduate and graduate students are at the school, working on degrees in production, recording arts, screenwriting, and animation. The faculty and student body have members from around the United States and the world, and LMU consistently ranks in the top 10 schools of its kind globally.

“Our screenwriting department features the widest range of offerings of any film school,” said Paul Chitlik, a clinical associate professor at LMU’s School of Film and Television.

Diversity runs through introductory courses — basic screenwriting, rewriting, and genre writing included — as well as advanced ones. Courses on writing and producing for digital media, including video games, have been available for more than 10 years, and professionals from Silicon Beach often teach them, according to Chitlik.

The wide array makes it possible for both novices and seasoned writers to learn.

“It’s hard to say what’s most popular as our classes are always full,” he said.

According to the professor, undergraduates focus on feature films or television while earning their bachelor’s degree, and graduate students apply their experience in the industry while learning about writing and producing for the screen as they earn their M.F.A.

In fall 2019, a creative producing certificate program is scheduled to become available to working professionals, said Chitlik.

Flexibility in the creation of new classes like this one, opportunities to study abroad, and state-of-the-art rooms for color grading and sound mixing are only some of the perks available to LMU students.

The school’s close proximity to Hollywood makes it easy for acclaimed professionals (Joel Zwick, Graham Yost, Ben Lewin and Glen Mazzara, to name a few) to drop by and present their latest work.

Plus, Chitlik himself knows a thing or two about creating; with more than 100 hours of television and film to his credit (and 30 years in the industry), he was initially recruited to teach a class on sitcom writing. When a full-time position opened, Chitlik became the first clinical professor in LMU’s screenwriting department.

“I found it a very professor-friendly environment, where I can get to know my students and help them develop their talent,” he said.

The variety of his experiences — journalism to writing for non-scripted shows, sitcoms to dramas, feature films to books — helps him communicate what it’s like in the “real world,” he said. 

“I know the pressure of deadlines. I understand the fear of the blank screen. I know the joys and sorrows of seeing your work heightened by collaborators or not finished the way I had envisioned.”  

As for why students should choose LMU, Chitlik keeps it simple.

“We have a mission to create media for good,” he said.

“We collaborate, not compete. We make films with purpose. We hope to change the world.” 

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